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With your camera in hand, discover the
enchanting cities of Marrakech and Fez, venture
into rose-colored kasbahs, and snap portraits of
traditional Berber families in their mountain
villages. Photograph the ancient adobe village of
Aït Ben Haddou lit up by the late afternoon sun,
and ride into the Sahara on a camel to capture
the sun setting on the dunes.
Capture the late afternoon light on ancient clay walls on a photo shoot in the hilltop village of Aït Ben Haddou.
Ride into the Sahara on a camel in time to photograph the sun setting on the dunes.
Take portraits of the wizened snake charmers of Marrakech, tanners knee-deep in dye vats, and traditional Berber families.
Photograph Morocco's diverse landscapes: palm oases at the foot of soaring plateaus, lush cedar forests, the rugged Atlas Mountains, and the soft curves of the Saharan sands.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Casablanca, Morocco
Arrive in Casablanca and meet your fellow travelers for a welcome lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This afternoon, visit the extraordinary Hassan II Mosque, which boasts the world's tallest minaret at 689 feet. Then stroll through the city’s Habous district and the mechouar, the ceremonial meeting place outside the Royal Palace. Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche (L,D)
Day 2 — Casablanca/Marrakech
Drive through the elegant Anfa neighborhood
on the way to Marrakech, Morocco’s legendary
“pearl of the South.” Enjoy a poolside lunch at the
hotel before delving into the heart of Marrakech. Get a fresh angle on the splendid Koutoubia Mosque and the Saadian Tombs, and focus on the mosaics and traditional architecture of Bahia Palace. With your camera in hand, explore the labyrinthine streets of the medina, lined with market stalls and craftspeople. Capture the colorful chaos of Djemma el Fna Square, where there are great photographic opportunities around every corner, from snake charmers and magicians to cooks and musicians. Tonight, gather for a rooftop reception and dinner accompanied by traditional Gnaoua music in the heart of the old medina.
Sofitel Marrakech (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Marrakech
Spend another full day experiencing Marrakech through your viewfinder. Photograph a range of exotic plants in the stunning Majorelle Garden, once owned by Yves Saint-Laurent, and see an
exclusive collection of Berber objects originating
from diverse regions of Morocco at the Berber
Museum. Explore historic Moroccan architecture with visits to the 14th-century Ben Youssef Madrassa and the Museum of Marrakech, located in the Dar Menebhi Palace. After lunch, head back into the lively medina for a photo shoot. Sofitel Marrakech (B,L)
Day 4 — Aït Ben Haddou/Ouarzazate
Cross the High Atlas Mountains over the Tichka Pass, stopping to board 4x4’s for the trip to the Kasbah of Telouet. Once home to the powerful Glaoui clan, the kasbah’s crumbling exterior belies its rich tile and woodwork. Proceed to Aït Benhaddou for lunch overlooking this ancient fortified village before venturing into its warren of twisting lanes and adobe homes for a photo shoot in the golden afternoon sun. Continue to Ouarzazate, a former colonial trading post, now known for its movie studios where films like Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia were shot. Le Berbère Palace (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Ouarzazate/Boumalne Dades
Capture the intricate details of traditional adobe architecture in Taourirt Kasbah this morning. Then set out on the fabled Road of 1,000 Kasbahs, stopping to take photographs as we pass lush oases and dramatic geology. Arrive in Boumalne Dades, a small town nestled amid the crags and plateaus of the semidesert landscape. After lunch, head out on a photo hike in the dramatic Dades Gorge and document everyday life during visits to nearby villages. Xaluca Dades (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Erfoud/Rissani/Merzouga
Continue along the Road of 1,000 Kasbahs to Erfoud, passing spectacular rock formations, oases, and rose plantations. In Erfoud, climb into 4x4s for the drive into the desert. In the souk of Rissani, a historic camel caravan stop, train your lens on shining mounds of olives and dates, brightly painted ceramics, and hand-woven rugs. Later, ride into the desert on a camel to photograph the sunset on the Saharan dunes. Arrive at our deluxe Berber tented camp in time to dine under the star-studded sky and enjoy an evening of Berber folk music and tales around the campfire. Bivouac Tented Berber Camp (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Merzouga/Fez
Awaken early for a photo walk across the sandscape as the rising sun paints the dunes orange and gold. Return to the camp for a hearty breakfast. Then head north into the high-mountain plains on your way to Fez, stopping for a walk in a lush cedar forest. Arrive in Fez late this afternoon, and
settle into your room at the stunning Hotel Sahrai perched above the city, your home for the next three nights. Hotel Sahrai (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Fez
Spend the day exploring this magnificent imperial city. At the 14th-century Bou Inania madrassa, photograph intricately carved stucco walls, arches, and cornices. Zoom in on the exquisite mosaics that cover Nejjarine Fountain, and visit the Kairaouine Mosque. Venture into the vibrant medina, where merchants preside over colorful mounds of spices and tanners soak skins in vats of dye. Later, visit the Royal Palace and Fes Jdid, home to the historic Jewish quarter. Hotel Sahrai (B,L)
Day 9 — Fez/Volubilis and Meknes
Today you may choose to explore Fez at your own pace or take an excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a World Heritage site; and Meknes, Morocco's 17th-century capital. Tonight, toast our Moroccan adventure at a farewell dinner and reception. Hotel Sahrai (B,D)
Day 10 — Fez/U.S.
This morning, transfer to the Fez airport for your return flight or transfer to Casablanca for flights departing in the afternoon. (B)
National Geographic photographer Michael Melford has produced more than a dozen feature stories for National Geographic magazine and more than 30 for National Geographic Traveler, including eight covers. Some of Michael’s recent assignments have focused on Russia, Israel, and North America’s national parks. He has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three on Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska, for which he spent four months traveling to every corner of the state. When not shooting for National Geographic, Michael enjoys giving seminars and workshops on photography and sharing both his love of nature and his extensive knowledge.
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,495.
International airfare to Casablanca and return from Fez is not included in the expedition cost.
In order to optimize photographic opportunities and allow for better access to our National Geographic photographer, we will limit these trips to 16 travelers beginning in 2016.
Featured Traveler Photo
What To Expect
Our hotels are first-class, well-located properties that
reflect the character of each region. In Marrakech,
Ouarzazate, and Fez, each hotel has a lovely pool and
stunning tropical gardens. Our camp in Merzouga
features deluxe Berber-style tents with en suite
bathrooms and generator-powered electricity.